Damage to Syria’s heritage – 08 October 2018



Damage to Syria’s Heritage

08 October 2018

This newsletter provides a summary of the most recent reports on the damage to Syria’s heritage.  It should be stressed that much of this data cannot be verified, but it is hoped that it will assist in the documentation of the damage occurring, and help raise awareness. Heritage for Peace have released a statement concerning their stance on data recording, available here.

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Main Contents

New from Heritage for Peace | Updates on Damage | Updates on Looting | Intangible Heritage | Syrian Activity | Policy Changes and Updates from Syria | International Activity | News Updates


New from Heritage for Peace

  • None

Updates on Damage

Logo for the Save Idlib Antiquities Campaign, Idlib Antiquities Centre. (See Reports from the Syrian People below)

Damage and repairs in Aleppo

Aleppo Archaeology shared photos by Joseph Megarbane of damage in Aleppo and the community-led repair work.

Updates on Looting

Smuggling attempt thwarted

According to the Syria Times and the DGAM, the Directorate of Antiquities in Daraa Province and the Daraa police thwarted an attempt to smuggle ancient artifacts dating back to the Roman era from the al-Tabariyat area into Jordan.

Looting reported to continue in Western Aleppo

Muraselon reports that militants in Western Aleppo continue to steal historical artifacts.

New EU measures to fight smuggling

The International Trade and the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committees of the European Parliament have approved measures to establish a common EU definition for cultural goods in the context of import and a certification system to guarantee the legality of the imported cultural goods.
Read more on European Interest.

Intangible Heritage

Culinary traditions celebrated abroad

  • Al Monitor report that Syrian confectioneries making traditional sweets and ice cream are establishing themselves in Lebanon, with some Syrians hopeful that “Damascene works; mosaics, motif fabrics, confectionery and so many other traditional practices related to heritage could be shared and presented to all of Beirut’s visitors.”
  • Syrians are bringing their traditional hummus recipes and culinary heritage to Berlin as ways to remember and reconnect with their homeland. Read more on Live Mint.

Syrian youth revive traditional music

On International Music Day, UNESCO celebrated how young Syrian refugees are keeping their traditional music alive. Watch more on the UNESCO Facebook page.

Traditional Syrian handcrafts featured in Damascus

  • A seminar hosted by the Arab Cultural Center in Abu Rummaneh in Damascus is showcasing the history of traditional Syrian glassmaking. Read more on SANA.
  • The Damascus Tourism Directorate in Khan Asaad Basha in the Old City of Damascus held an exhibition of various traditional handicrafts, including mosaics, arabesque, and glass and copper work. Read more on SANA.

Reports and Updates from the Syrian People

Save Idlib’s Antiquities campaign launched

On 3rd October, Idleb Antiquites Center launched a campaign to protect the Antiquities of Idlib, with civil and national events. The campaign is to be followed by a national conference at the cultural center in Idlib in the presence and participation of senior dignitaries in civil and community work from inside and outside Syria.
There is a link to a petition on Avaaz as part of the campaign.

Restoration ongoing 


Artefacts displayed at Syria’s ‘Recovered Treasures’ Exhibition

The General Directorate for Antiquities and Museums at Dar al-Assad for Culture and Arts held an exhibit of over 500 recovered ancient Syrian artefacts.
Read more on SANA, on PRI, on the DGAM website, and in Hurriet News.

Policy Changes and Updates from Syria

  • None

International Activity

ARCA programme accepting applications

ARCA’s Postgraduate program in Art Crime and Cultural Heritage Protection is now accepting applications.
Read more on the Art Crime Blogspot website.

Documentation request for Syrian sites

The Non-Professional Archaeological Photographs project has the aim to preserve non-professional documentation of past archaeological campaigns to the future and make it accessible to the public via digital archives. At the moment they are tracing documentation of the excavations of:

  • Mari/Tell Hariri;
  • Dura Europos;
  • Apamea.

Learn more on the NPAPH website.

Palmyraverse launched

The #NewPalmyra project, an effort to reconstruct the ancient site using modern technologies, has now launched Palmyraverse, an online space to view the resulting 3D monuments.
Read more on the All 3D Printing website.

Counter-Islamophobia toolkit launched

The Centre for Religious Pluralism in the Middle East reported on the “launch of a ‘Counter-Islamophobia Toolkit’ [which] offers reason for hope at a time when racism is on the rise in many parts of Europe.”

Reconstructed Palmyrene arch reaches Washington D. C.

The Institute for Digital Archaeology unveiled a reconstruction of Palmyra’s Triumphal Arch in Washington D.C. It was created using 3D scanning, printing and carving technology, and previously been displayed at New York’s City Hall Plaza, London’s Trafalgar Square, the G7 Summit in Florence and Dubai’s World Government Summit.
Read more on the IDA website.

UK volunteers rebuild Syrian heritage

A volunteer UK team will be assisting with the repair and rebuilding of heritage sites in Syria. Read more on the Business Up North website.

Aleppo workshop aims to create database of archaeological sites

A workshop on cultural heritage in Aleppo concluded last week in Germany, which is part of a project to create an archaeological database of archaeological sites in and around Aleppo City. In the workshop, many postgraduate students of Aleppo in the archaeology department in Germany participated. Photos are available on Facebook.

Philadelphia museum hires Syrian tour guides

At the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Syrians are helping museum visitors make connections between the ancient artifacts and the present-day cultures.
Read more on PRI.

Grant helps Syrian music abroad

A grant supporting immigrant integration in New Haven,Connecticut, will go to the local organization Music Haven and help fund a new string quartet that weaves together Syrian and Iraqi folk melodies. Read more on the New Haven Register here.

News Updates
(Not covered in other sections)

  • 13 News Now wrote on the debate about how to preserve or rebuild museums, using the IDA’s reproduced Arch of Triumph as an example of one response to increased damage and threats to cultural sites.
  • Fast Company used examples from Syria to discuss the importance of thinking about “civilization” as more than historic monuments of impressive sites.
  • The Antiquities Coalition reported on a symposium at the New York Public Library on the critical role that cultural institutions play in engaging shared heritage.
  • SANA published photos of ancient basalt sculptures at the National Museum of Dara.
  • CGTN reported on the recent Chinese forum at the Palace Museum in Beijing, where there was a global forum on preserving humanity’s cultural heritage, drawing experts from Egypt, Greece, Italy, India, and Syria.

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